OK, it’s from the pre-Internet era. Hence my delay in posting. Actually, this is a sketchy “race report” since few of the details remain fixed.

Actually someone on LetsRun linked to the following video of Rod Dixon, winner of the 1983 NYC Marathon:

I remember the race well. It was my first marathon. From the video, you can see that it was raining, and the temperature was good, so primo marathon weather. In those days, there were no corrals. Field of about 17,000, using only the upper level (both sides) of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. What’s more, things were sufficiently laid back that my team — Warren Street — hired a minibus to take us across the bridge, where we were dropped off, and warmed up right by the start, across the highway from Fort Wadsworth. As the start approached, we simply walked to the start and positioned ourselves in the fourth or fifth rows.

This was my first marathon, although I had been racing on the roads since 1978, up to HMs. My mileage got up to the 80 mile mark, although that was a mark I reached infrequently.

On October 23, the howitzer went off and we were off. Being my first marathon, my strategy was to go out easy and see what happened. What happened was that after mile 1, I was not passed until mile 20. Who remembers what the splits were. I just remembering trying to keep things steady. My outside goal was 2:25, but I was confident that I could get in under 2:30.

In those days, the women started with the men (although the top women started on the Staten Island-bound side of the Bridge). As I headed up First Avenue, I approached the crowd that accompanied Grete (as one always did, albeit one that would be far smaller by mile 20 than at mile 8 (where the two sides of the Bridge, as now, merged). I was relaxed and passed pretty easily. I mean, this marathoning business wasn’t so hard after all.

Ah, the hubris of the young. I started to tire. Just before 21, in the Bronx heading back into Manhattan, I decided to hook up with a group of guys I caught. Stick with them for a bit. I don’t know for how long I was with them, but I do know that as we headed down Fifth Avenue things started to fall apart. I was wet, I was tired, I was hungry. But, I knew, Central Park beckoned. I had run her roads virtually every day for years. Get there, and I was home free.

Except I wasn’t. She turned on me. Instead of a refuge, she became a trap. I hadn’t run her roads when I was wet, tired, and hungry. So when I entered (by this time I was on my own again) the Park via a hill at 103rd Street (the course skips this now), I was in deep trouble. Few things stand out except that suddenly, right before the 24 mile mark, Grete whizzed by me with the ease that I had used against her earlier. She would go on to win in 2:27:00, but I didn’t care about anyone but me.

As would happen in 2006, despair reared its head. Just a few more miles. As I turned onto Central Park South, someone to my right stopped. I looked ahead. This was supposed to be a fairly flat stretch. But there, ahead, was a long if slight hill heading towards Columbus Circle. Stopping didn’t seem like a crazy idea, and I did, briefly. (You see, I’ve never actually run the full 26.21875 miles without stopping.) Less than a mile to go. Just suck it up, and finish. Rod Dixon and Geoff Smith were long finished. Grete too. In fact, she passed me just at 24. She would beat me by 2:13, telling you how much I fell off, with a 2:29:13.

A few days later, I was at my sister’s, watching a tape of the race. Hoping, of course, to catch a glimpse of my running. No luck. Then, there was a guy being helped at the end of the chutes by two burly doctors. I remember them. They had held me up after the finish, asking me simple questions like my age and name and stuff, which I answered to their satisfaction because they let me continue on my way. But there they were, with me, on the TV. A full 15 seconds! My 15 seconds of fame, I guess. And did I look bad.

How bad did I feel? I took a cab home. This might not seem strange. Except home was less than a mile from the finish.

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